M N Roy 1925

Letter to Velayudham
Zurich, January 1925

National Archives of India F261 K.W.I/P278.

My dear Com. Velayudham,

Excuse me for the delay in answering your letter of December which reached me in time. Of late we have been having a lot of troubles and had to reorganise our entire work. Our position in Europe is not much better than yours in India, although you are not aware of it, nor do I need writing about it. I only mention the incident in order that you know that the delay was inevitable. We are fired up again, at least for the time being, and will carry on the work with more regularity.

I am answering only your letter, because the “reply with necessary papers from Com. S.” mentioning in your letter, did not come. So far we got two numbers of the Labour. I cannot tell you why the Manifesto failed to reach us as soon it was published; but the fact is that it failed. It might have got lost in the Mail. Many things do. Particularly registered things, and you sent many things by registered post. We do not happen to be so legal here as you may think, and, therefore, are not always in a position to comply with all the formalities that are demanded by a German Postal bureaucracy before delivering anything registered.

This Manifesto business has always been a mystery to me which is, however, cleared at last by your last letter. I know Mukherji liked a book, because he was long enough with me. Therefore it was not difficult for me to guess who was the father of that famous document. It reached in transcript form which was sent with a forged signature of Manilal to some German comrades for publication. I recognised Muk’s handwriting in the forged signature of Manilal who was supposed to have been the sender. I could also see the shades of Muk – all through the Manifesto. The comrades to whom the manuscript was sent, handed it to me with the remark that it was a peculiar document with clauses which are positively pernicious. They would not publish it unless I would investigate into the genesis of the affair. I had already been informed by comrade Sing of the projected party and Manifesto. Therefore, I was in a position to inform the German Comrades immediately that the Manuscript was a fake document and result of Muk’s intrigues. I also told them that the authentic manifesto of the party should be forthcoming in a few days and would be available to the European party press for publication. How little did I know that the document, which I disowned and condemned with sufficient reason and that, which I vouchsafed as an authentic document issued by bona fide organisation and signed by honest revolutionaries, were identical. There is no mention of L and K Party in the manuscript sent by Muk. It was supposed to be issued by some bogus organisation called “Peasants of Northern India and Workers of Southern India.” Your manifesto did not reach me as expected, but gave the international press every scrap of information that it could get concerning the L and K Party. Com. Sing’s Manifesto to the Gaya Congress, his speech etc. were given publicity. Of course I hailed the party as our own and went ahead to do everything that lay in my power to aid it. All I could gather about its programme and constitution was from the printed party card and the Rules and Regulations. Here again Muk’s tracks were discernible. I have nothing against Muk as an individual as Com. Singh appears to think. I do not hold anybody responsible for personal connections with him. What I objected to was that our party should be born under his influence which is held not only by me, but by an international also as bad. I pointed out the thing clearly to Com. Sing, who did not take any notice of my warning evidently thinking that it was a case of personal jealousy. Official notice from the international was also sent. Com. Sing denied any knowledge of the person while he was enjoying the party’s hospitality. I mention these facts just to prove that the party did not behave with me straight on this case, although from the first moment I declared my adhesion to it and offered all my services, I also know how Muk got in touch with Manilal and the latter easily fell under his bad influence. Now I know definitely from your letter that I was not wrong about the (organisers) of the Manifesto.

These few words about Muk and the behaviour of you all on this point are needed to prove that your manifesto was drawn mostly under his guidance. The object with which he went to India was intrigue against our work by which he expected to discredit us and re-establish his position. The Manifesto was drawn with this motive and you all involuntarily were party to it. The clause to which I took strong exception and which was considered as positively pernicious by responsible comrades here, was the work of Muk. All my requests and reasons for its removal have been in vain. You will stand by it. The reasons adduced by you as well as by Com. Sing in support of it, are childish, to use the least inoffensive language. Who are those “Bolshevik and foreign agents"? whom you denounce in your Manifesto? They are our comrades including myself. You need not take such a unwarranted course to “guard us from destruction” You should advise me not to be “anxious” about the clause, but apart from my objection to it, the International refuses to have any relation with a party which claims to be a communist, at least pretend to represent the proletarian cause but wishes such a clause in the Manifesto declaring its birth. Do you see the incongruity? And if the International disowns your party, I cannot fulfill my promises to help you. But I did my best, notwithstanding, because I hoped that as honest revolutionaries you would such see your mistake as soon it was pointed out to you; but unfortunately you insisted on your blunder. Therefore it was natural on my part to conclude that the party was born under wrong auspices and would not amount to much. I was correct. If after more than a year the party failed to make any impression in Indian politics, it is not for any technical reasons, which certainly have their influence, but primarily for the wrong auspices under which it was born and for its ideological weakness. I did my best to remove these disabilities, but all in vain. My criticism and suggestions about the programme were considered by Com. Sing as “waste of so much type written paper.” It was certainly not encouraging. If there had been any sound theoretical opposition to my suggestions, I would only be too glad to carry on the discussion till the vital points of programme was cleared. It is not a child’s play to build a new party. It is unavoidable that there will be many points of view and the consequent debate and polemic. This is very healthy. But what the party did was to give through the medium of Com. Sing a very curt reply to my suggestions – reply which was unceremonious dismissal, and wanted me to prove my honesty and revolutionary integrity by securing help for it without bothering at all how it should act. You must think it was the best course for you to take; we happen to have a different view. We soon found out that the party was not what we expected it to be. Still I maintain perfectly friendly relations, with you and did not fail to give practical indications in so far as I could give in the limitations put upon me by the International to which I must submit.

Now a few words about the contents of the Manifesto. I have written at length on this question. All my letters are addressed to Com. Sing and I have reasons to believe that they all reached him, so I have no desire to dwell on it again at length. I have also expressed my views publicly on the subject. I will have to write a small brochure if you desire my constructive criticism to the matter. I think it will be useful and will take up an analysis of the Manifesto, programme and activities of the party in an open letter soon. Meanwhile you can consult my letters to Com. Sing if you sincerely want to know my views and want to see the defects in your programme from any angle of vision.

Before touching other points of the Manifesto I would like to request you to sit down quietly and read the paragraph about Bolshevik agents. I have no hesitation in stating outright that this unfortunate clause, smuggled in your manifesto by an intriguing hand, may give you protection against imaginary government prosecution, but damn the party otherwise. Then the political part of the clause is ridiculous. What do you mean by “the Labour Section of the Bolshevik Movement?” Bolshevik movement has no commercial, aristocratic or any other section. It is a labour movement and only a labour movement. Will you kindly tell me who are these “Indian and European intellectuals” whom you damn as government agents. None of the European and Indian intellectual labour leaders in India ever pretended to be Bolsheviks, so they are evidently out of your views. It is, therefore, not difficult to surmise on whom your anathema falls. Can you not understand the seriousness of the implications of a statement in which you affix your name and which you defend persistently?

Your reasons for taking a vague position as to “National Independence” are the same and equally unconvincing as those of Com. Sing whom. I have answered several times. It is quite constitutional to state our goal to be National Independence. Often people and parties have done it in India without risking much. But the defect of your programme is not the omission of a particular phrase. The whole thing is vague and lacks a clear conception of the situation. How can you expect to draw adherents to your party if you fail to state clearly and unequivocally what you stand for? There are other points in your programme which are equally defective. The failure of the party to grow is due to these defects. You did not go at the matter right. The obstinacy or should I call it a sense of self-righteousness on your part as been much enormity that you would not even see the queerness of using the English word and another Indian word in the name of the party. Why for heaven’s sake, do not use two words of either language ? My suggestion even in such technical point was ignored.

You complain that you could not do what you wanted for lack of funds, but significantly enough you say in an unguarded moment that “if money is plentiful men come.” Do you expect to build a party of any worth with men who still join you only because you have plenty of money. So, my dear friend, to attract reliable revolutionary material to the party you need nothing else. You need the ability to show them the way that the present leaders cannot and which the revolutionary masses cannot fend themselves. This depends upon your possessing a clear knowledge of the way you want to go yourselves. You must be convinced that you are in a position to visualise the objective desires and aspirations of the masses. Then your task will be to make them articulate through the medium of your programme. This has not been done in the least by your manifesto. One is loath to admit the shortcomings of one’s creation. But to be able to do so is one of the revolutionary virtues. Besides, as pointed out above, the Manifesto is not your creation. Thus do you shoulder the responsibility and want to defend it.

I suppose you will understand the spirit of this communication. It is written purely objectively. No personal insinuation is involved in it. Although I do not make secret of my opinion about the political merit of your and other Comrades’ works – an opinion which is not very agreeable and which is expressed rather in an un-Indian way – I have nothing but admiration for the personal qualities of yourself, Com. Sing and others. I appreciate the spirit and energy of Com. Singaravelu and from the very beginning of our acquaintance hailed him as our future leader. Politically his behaviour might have made me change my views, but personally my admiration remains intact. The story of your sacrifice is inspiring. The building of a working class party demands men like you – not those who will flock if there is plenty of money.

If you are willing to reconsider the whole position and begin all over again I will be very glad to join hands. But we must rise above amour propre. One should admit that a wrong start has been made. This brings me back to the necessity of a preliminary Conference. I have insisted on this repeatedly. All these misunderstandings and political blunders could be avoided, had the party been launched after proper deliberations. It was a hasty undertaking. Adequate preparations were not made. I will be certainly glad if you can come. We need a few more comrades from other provinces, can you undertake the task of organising the delegation to the preliminary Conference here? I am ready to render all help to this end. See if 4 or 5 Comrades can come. We will have a thorough discussion of all the question in detail, elaborate the programme, draft a new manifesto, arrange about the party press, organisation, communication etc. Then the delegation will return to call a large Conference which will be the first congress of our legal Party (which cannot be the Communist Party and which will embrace revolutionary national elements beside socialist). The draft programme will be adopted by this Congress and the party will be launched publicly not on paper, neither is a small group, nor again as a exclusive sect, but as a powerful revolutionary mass organisation. I would suggest that you get in touch with the people. Ghulam Hossain in Lahore (can look over Sams Uddin Hossain. He writes me often about his works and plans, more about the latter than about the former), the group of Dange if he desires, which I am beginning to doubt, Sampurnanand of Benares, the Bengal Party with which you can get in contact through our revolutionary friend and any other elements that you may think suitable. Try to push the matter so that the Conference can be held not later than March. The technical arrangements for the trip can be done in several ways. Some may come openly with passport. Their relations with us here will be kept strictly secret so there will be no difficulty when they return. The others, who cannot get passports can come illegally and return the same way. We will make the arrangements. Our friend in Pondicherry will arrange for the trip outward. We will hold the Conference in France. It will be easier to get a passport for that country. One can say that he is coming just for a trip or to look for business opportunities. It will be desirable to insist that the delegates will find their own expenses to come; because in that case we will be sure of more genuine men. But we cannot be too strict upon this rule. There may be very good comrades who will not be able to find their own means. So when you have got the delegation ready and are certain of its reliability, we will attend to financial aspects of the case. Some help will be available and our passage back will be paid for all at any rate. You may need visit our prospective comrades. Some money for the purpose can a also be got; provided that you take the responsibility of organizing a delegation within a given time. I am instructing the Pondichery office to attend to these matters. Please get in touch with them. In this connection I may mention the possibility of doing something with the Trade Union Congress now that it is free from the influence of Chamanlal” The new officers seem to be a better lot. I have some connection with them. I am writing Com. Sing particularly on this question. It will be a good idea to invite one of them to join the delegation. The Secretary of the Bengal Federation Mukunda Lai Sarkar, may do. If you can come down to Pondicherry and have a talk with our agent there (a new comrade) the question of your personal affairs may be somehow solved. We need honest and revolutionary workers. Financially we are not nearly so well up as seems to be the prevailing idea in India. The finances of the party must be found in India; but we will be able to find means for supplying the preliminary expenses provided that good workers are available.

I think enough has been written for the present. I will expect an early reply from you. This communication can be considered as addressed to the party if you like. Particularly the contents can be brought to the notice of Com. Sing.

Henceforth do not write or send anything more to Berlin.

Papers, literature etc. and ordinary communication can be sent to the address on the paper (Dr. Hitz Bey, Postkach 348, Zurich). It is quite safe. He is not a Tueleish Bay but a Swiss member of the Parliament. It can also be used for confidential correspondence, since the Swiss P.O. is still safe. But you can also use the Amsterdam address as well as the following M. Petit, Bureau Central, Qual Valmy 117, Boity 40, Paris. An inside cover addressed to me. If you mail in Pondicherry, anything can be sent to this address absolutely safe.

With best wishes and warmest greetings to all the comrades and yourself.

Sd/- M.N. Roy

N.B. Sams-Ud-Hassan writes me that he has 4 men (2 in Bengal & 2 in U.P.) to come as delegates to the 5th Congress of the C.I. Keep in touch with them and see how these men are. If some of them can serve our purpose you can choose two, one from each province.

M.P.S. Velayudham